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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
Question

I have decided to repent, because I
have given up sin and decided not
to go back to it. But I do not feel
any regret in my heart. How can I
attain regret, as it is difficult to
achieve, because regret is not an
action, and is not possible, because
it is a reaction, not an action, and
reactions are not voluntary. So why
is it important to feel regret , when
it is not an action that a person can
do (it is just a feeling), and he is not
able to do that? Should I pray to
Allah to instil regret in my heart?

Answer

Praise be to Allah.
The conditions of valid repentance
are as follows:
1. Giving up the sin
2. Regretting what one has done
in the past
3. Resolving not to go back to it.
If the sin involved transgressing
against people’s wealth, honour or
lives, then there is a fourth
condition, which is seeking
forgiveness from the person who
was wronged, or giving him his
dues.
For more information on repentance
and its conditions, please see the
answers to questions no. 13990 and
182767.
Regret is a main condition, or the
greatest aspect, of repentance.
Hence the Messenger (blessings and
peace of Allah be upon him) said:
“Regret is repentance.” Classed as
saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn
Maajah .
One of the scholars even said:
Regret is sufficient to achieve
repentance, for it implies giving up
the sin and resolving not to go back
to it, which stem from regret and do
not occur independently of it
See: Fath al-Baari (13/471).
Al-Qaari (may Allah have mercy on
him) said:
“Regret is repentance”: because this
will lead to the other essential
components of repentance – namely
giving up the sin and resolving not
to go back to it, and restoring
people’s rights wherever possible.…
What is meant is remorse for having
committed the sin because it is a
sin, and for no other reason.
End quote from Mirqaat al-
Mafaateeh (4/1637).
What is meant by regret (nadam) is
sorrow, or deep sorrow, as is stated
in Lisaan al-‘Arab (1/79, 6/4386).
The author explained regret as
meaning sadness, then explained
sadness as meaning sorrow or
extreme sorrow.
In the words of al-Qaari quoted
above, he explains regret as
meaning remorse – that is, sorrow –
for having committed the sin
because it is a sin, and for no other
reason.
What this means is that everyone
who feels sorrow for having
committed a sin has attained the
regret that is referred to in the case
of repentance. If this regret is
sincere, then the sinner will give up
the sin and will resolve not to do it
again. Thus his repentance will be
complete and will have met all the
necessary conditions.
Based on that, everyone who gives
up a sin because it is disobedience
to Allah, may He be exalted – in
other words, out of fear of Allah and
in obedience to Him – and hates the
fact that he fell into sin and
disobeyed the Lord of the Worlds,
and wishes that he had obeyed Allah
instead of disobeying Him, and
resolves not to do it again, has
definitely attained regret, and
regret is what made him give up the
sin.

Al-Ghazaali (may Allah have mercy
on him) said in Ihyaa’ ‘Uloom ad-
Deen (4/4):
Repentance is something that
evolves from one stage to another
in three stages: knowledge,
awareness and action. Knowledge is
the first, awareness is the second
and action is the third.
The first leads to the second, and
the second leads to the third in an
inevitable sequence as ordained by
Allah.
As for knowledge, it means coming
to know of the great harm that sins
may cause and the fact that sins
form a barrier between a person and
everything that he loves and aspires
for.
Once he becomes certain of this
knowledge at a level of certainty
that overwhelms him, there will
result from this knowledge remorse
and pain in the heart for missing
out on what he loves and aspires to,
because when the heart realises
what he has missed out on of what
he loves, there will be pain. If his
missing out on it was the result of
some deed that he did, then he will
feel sorrow for doing the deed that
caused him to miss out on that.
This pain is called regret.
Once this pain becomes so intense
that it overwhelms the heart, it will
lead to another emotion in the
heart, which is called resolution and
the will to do something that is
connected to the present, the past
and the future.
With regard to the present, he will
resolve to give up this sin that he
was committing.
With regard to the future, he will
resolve to refrain for the rest of his
life from that sin that caused him
to miss out on what he loves and
aspires to.
With regard to the past, he will
resolve to rectify the situation and
make up for what he missed out on,
if it can be rectified.

… Knowledge, regret and resolution
have to do with keeping away from
sin now and in the future, and
rectifying what happened in the
past, and all of that together is
called repentance (tawbah).
The word repentance is often used
to refer to regret only, and
awareness and knowledge are
regarded as precursors, whilst
giving up the sin is regarded as
being the result and outcome. Based
on that, we may understand what
the Prophet (blessings and peace of
Allah be upon him) meant when he
said: “Regret is repentance,”
because regret cannot take place
unless one attains knowledge that
leads to it, and it cannot but be
followed by resolution, so regret has
a precursor and an outcome. End
quote.
He also said (3/144):
If fear results from something that
one did in the past, it will lead to
regret, and regret will lead to
resolution. The Prophet (blessings
and peace of Allah be upon him)
said: “Regret is repentance.” End
quote.
Thus it becomes clear that your
giving up the sin and resolving not
to go back to it are indicative of the
occurrence of regret in your heart.
So you should ignore these whispers
of the Shaytaan by means of which
he wants to make you think that
you have not repented yet, or that
repentance is impossible, or that
you will never be able to repent,
which will create despair and
hopelessness and make you think
that the gate of repentance is
closed to you.
We ask Allah, may He be exalted, to
protect us all from the accursed
Shaytaan, and to enable us to
repent sincerely.
And Allah knows best.

islamqa.info/en/answers/247976/regret-the-most-important-aspect-of-repentance

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